A Step Toward Falling

by Cammie McGovern

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What is the plot in A Step Toward Falling?

The plot of A Step Toward Falling centers on the assault of a teen girl, Belinda, with developmental disabilities. Emily watches the attack but doesn’t do anything. As punishment, Emily has to volunteer at a center for young people with developmental issues. Emily also apologizes to Belinda for her inaction and helps Belinda stage a performance of Pride and Prejudice.

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The plot of A Step Toward Falling primarily centers on two girls: Emily and Belinda. Both girls are teens. They attend the same high school. Emily is quite smart. She’s taking three AP courses. She’s also something of an activist. She’s the co-chair of her school’s Youth Action Coalition. Belinda has a developmental disability. She also has a considerable crush on the actor Colin Firth. She watches his 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice often.

At a football game, Emily sees Belinda being harassed. She witnesses her being kicked and spat on by football players. She doesn’t try to stop the assault herself. Lucas, a relatively mindful football player, also notices the attack. He doesn’t do anything either.

The school punishes Emily and Lucas. They make them volunteer at a center for young people with disabilities. Emily accepts her punishment. She’s acutely aware that her lack of action was unacceptable. She admits:

I could have screamed NO! I could have rushed out to the crowd 50 feet away and yelled at the top of my lungs about what was happening. If I’d done any of those things, I would have changed the story.

At the center, Emily tutors the young people about consent, personal boundaries, and healthy romantic relationships.

Emily also apologizes directly to Belinda. She then helps Belinda put on a theatrical performance of Pride and Prejudice. Like Jane Austen’s romantic novel, the plot of A Step Toward Falling gets rather romantic. Belinda develops a relationship with a boy named Anthony. Lucas and Emily also become close.

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